WESTMINSTER — In completing his first six passes of his varsity debut, Fairview quarterback Aidan Atkinson looked calm, cool and collected at North Stadium in Thursday night's game against Horizon.
The sophomore had the crisp throws and the timing with his receivers — a new crop of wideouts is emerging for the Knights, too — and it parlayed into a look that FHS coach Tom McCartney won't regret putting his trust in a non-senior at the position for the first time since 2012.
The Knights jumped out to an excellent start by scoring on four of their five first-half drives, and FHS won its opener 38-14 while also beating Horizon for the third time in the past five meetings.
While Mariano Kemp was steady and bullish at the tailback for Fairview, Atkinson developed a quick rapport with Matt Greenwald and Desjardins — a pair of athletes who started in the FHS defensive backfield last year.
Desjardins had two early touchdown receptions, going for 35 and 11 yards, and Greenwald had the game's big play with a 57-yard catch and run that made the score 24-6 at the half. The pair combined for 14 catches and 266 yards, the kind of life in the passing game that has come to be expected.
"We've worked a lot over the summer, just putting a lot in on (7-on-7) play, and it really showed up here," said Desjardins, who finished with 10 catches for 165 yards and two scores. "It just feels like the chemistry is already there (with Atkinson) and we think it's going to continue to improve through the season with route-reading and whatnot.
"We had a scrimmage last week against Skyline, and that's when he won the starting job. We just know he's going to keep it going."
Atkinson finished with 347 passing yards and Fairview accumulated 491 yards of offense overall, but it wasn't all about outpacing Horizon as the defense came up big, too. Jeff Erickson had two sacks, and outside of an Isaac Salazar 81-yard TD catch in the second quarter, the defense kept everything in front of them.
Salazar would later have a 56-yard punt return for a score in the fourth quarter, but the Knights established another scoring drive that finished with Kemp's second touchdown run of 7 yards.
Horizon, which rotated between Matt Francis and Amado Capetillo at quarterback, finished with just 241 yards of offense. For the Knights, it was a performance defensively they hope to repeat next week against Boulder, minus just a couple mistakes.
"There were a few things with our defensive line and linebackers filling in holes but overall they did great and we stopped the run mostly," Desjardins said. "That one big play they had, we can't let those things happen. Every down has to be a good down for us."
Fairview 38, Horizon 14
At North StadiumFairview101477—38Horizon0608—14
Fairview — Bryce Desjardins 35 pass from Aidan Atkinson (Teyve Scheuttpelz-Rohl kick). Fairview — Scheuttpelz-Rohl 34 field goal.
Fairview — Desjardins 11 pass from Atkinson (Schuettpelz-Rohl kick). Horizon — Isaac Salazar 81 pass from Matt Francis (kick failed). Fairview — Matt Greenwald 57 pass from Atkinson (Schuettpelz-Rohl kick).
Fairview — Mariano Kemp 7 run (Schuettpelz-Rohl kick).
Horizon — Salazar 56 punt return (Brant Killmon pass from Amado Capetillo). Fairview — Kemp 7 run (Schuettpelz-Rohl kick).
RUSHING — Fairview: Mariano Kemp 26-128, Jacob Fenton 3-13, Jake Sheerin 2-3. Horizon: Noah Steinbach 10-69, Matt Francis 5-(minus-2), Amado Capetillo 4-20, Dadrian Paris 1-(minus-1),
PASSING — Fairview: Aidan Atkinson 24-31-0-347. Horizon: Francis 7-15-0-140, Capetillo 1-6-0-15.
RECEIVING — Fairview: Bryce Desjardins 10-165, Matt Greenwald 4-101, Teyve Schuettpelz-Rohl 3-16, Miles Morton 2-34, Kemp 1-0, Sheerin 2-5, Henry Blackburn 3-29. Horizon: Isaac Salazar 3-120, Kennedy Martinez 1-1, Paris 2-7, Taylor Sayavong 1-15, Steinbach 1-12.